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New launch pad for health-tech start-ups

Tony Cheng Fu Chang is head of a new health-tech initiative at Copenhagen science city-located BioInnovation Institute

Technology could supplement medicine in treating, managing or even preventing some diseases. That is the promise of health-tech. Now the Copenhagen Science City-located start-up incubator and accelerator-initiative BioInnovation Institute is expanding its focus to include these technological solutions. They have committed to spend up to 70 million DKK per year to help health-tech entrepreneurs get closer to market.

Exciting Copenhagen potential

Tony Cheng-fu Chang is looking for health-tech solutions that will transform the world. Recently hired by BioInnovation Institute he is in charge of developing its expansion into the health-tech space. He has worked in science commercialisation in South Africa and more recently for M Ventures, the corporate venture arm of Merck KGaA in tech-stronghold Amsterdam, Holland. Despite his international background, he is excited about the possibilities in Copenhagen.

I am confident, that there is a lot of great science here. The talent is here, and the funding eco-system is strong. We want to be the platform that will help local inventors and entrepreneurs dare to take a shot at greatness”, Tony Cheng-Fu Chang, Senior Business Developer, BioInnovation Institute.

Brilliant, Danish and un-funded

The Novo Nordisk Foundation founded and funded the BioInnovation Institute. Despite this, Mr. Chang is open to innovation in any area. In fact, the only conditions for applying to one of the two annual calls are that the idea or science must be brilliant, that the company must be Danish, and that it must not have any professional investors yet.

From Artificial Intelligence to videogames

With the new, expanded focus, BII is interested in solutions employing Artificial Intelligence, Big data, Machine Learning and other technologies. Their key focus however, will be whether the solution either enhances patient outcome, or improves research and development. One example could be computer games. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a videogame for therapeutic purposes. Given Copenhagen’s very strong position in video games, Mr Chang feels that this is a field to look into.

Digital therapeutics will probably be a key area of BII Healthtech focus – we are inspired by such paradigm shifting developments and look forward to seeing what exciting innovations can come up in this space”, Tony Cheng-Fu Chang, Senior Business Developer, BioInnovation Institute.

Personal curiosity about brains

Although BII aims to take in health-tech companies at extremely early stages, they still hope to prepare one or two companies for first round investments within the first year of operation. They also hope to have proven themselves as the go-to place for Danish health-tech entrepreneurs. In terms of which solutions they will back, Mr Chang tries to remain agnostic, but he is personally curious about two things.

I would love to see tools for prolonging brain-health. In the cognitive field, there is still a lot to understand and even more to do. I also hope to start moving from treatment to prevention with the help of health-tech, and I wonder how we can help people develop more healthy behaviour without compromising neither privacy nor ethics”, says Tony Cheng-Fu Chang, Senior Business Developer, BioInnovation Institute.